Are video games art? I shall address the question by taking a page from the incomparable George Carlin, a comedian/philosopher of the 20th century…
If video games are art, why aren’t the original arcade cabinets for Pac-Man and Donkey Kong on permanent display at the Louvre or the Metropolitan Museum of Art?
If video games are art, why aren’t titles like Doom or Tomb Raider being auctioned off at places like Christie’s or Sotheby’s… instead of eBay?
If video games are art, why aren’t game developers getting grants from places like the National Endowment of the Arts? Why do they keep hitting us schmoes up for $60 a pop?
If video games are art, if Andy Warhol were alive today, would he feel compelled to take the cover of the original Metal Gear game and repaint it sixteen different ways… using only three colors?
And finally, if video games are indeed art, then why is it that in the lobby of every high-priced high rise, in the corner office of every pampered exec, within the stately confines of every single mansion belonging to the power elite on this planet, you will never, ever find proudly displayed… a bust… of Duke Nuke’em?
Video games and games in general were invented to serve a basic human need: enter-tainment. Diversion. Sometimes you’re bored out of your skull. Sometimes life is being a little rough on you. Sometimes you just need something to do while you’re waiting for the fire department to show up and pry your friend’s head out of the storm drain. You know, you were taping an audition reel for the new Jackass movie and things went a little off script.
Sure, you have mindless games, strategy games, role playing games, psychological games, games of various stripes and purposes. But first and foremost, video games let us take a little break from the world and maybe even help get people just a little bit closer together. Hey, I love playing Angry Birds as much as anybody, but I don’t feel that it should be handled with white gloves or kept under glass!
And as for certain individuals and companies within the gaming industry who would claim “artistic license” as a crutch and a cudgel against accusations of shoddy craftsmanship or gouging… you know, Vincent Van Gogh was crazy enough to cut off an ear, but even he had the sense to hang on to the other one if only to hear people scream “’THE F*** DID YA DO, VINNY?”
That's ma rant...
Update: Oyyy-yoe-yoe! Just when I think I've made a case, this happens.
Di-IIIIII give up... EAs and Microsofts of the world, do what you want. I'm just gonna go back to what people in ancient times used to do... use my imagination! Last I checked, it's still free to do. We've outsourced our jobs and we've outsourced our money... I'll be damned if I'm gonna outsource my dreams, too!